Sara A. M. Silva is the Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of EntreNous Youth Empowerment Services, Inc. and serves as Chief Financial and Operations Officer for both Compton YouthBuild & Whittier YouthBuild. Mrs. Silva’s research focuses on creating and sustaining equitable leadership, educational and occupational opportunities for youth ages 16-24 in economically distressed communities in Los Angeles County, California. Prior to co-founding EntreNous Youth Empowerment Services, Mrs. Silva was a teacher at Harbor Community Adult School, part of the adult division of Los Angeles Unified School District from 2003-2012. Mrs. Silva has a Master's Degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills in Educational Leadership and a Bachelor's Degree from Penn State University in psychiatric social work specializing in psychosocial mental health rehabilitation.
Born and raised in El Salvador, Leonel E. Fuentes immigrated to the United States at only 19 years old. Leonel currently stands as the CEO of Alliance for Community Empowerment (ACE). Prior to dedicating his work full time to ACE, Leonel served with Build Rehabilitation Industries for 24 years. First serving as Director of WorkSource Center, Leonel oversaw all aspects of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) program, pursued funding opportunities through grant writing and in-kind resources, and developed partnerships with community agencies. Previously, Leonel served as Project Director of the Welfare to Work Project (WtW) where he developed procedures, and oversaw the successful completion of performance standards. In collaboration with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Leonel’s work has been referenced by 2,000 organizations, including larger corporations, such as The Home Depot Inc., Lowe's Companies, Inc., Papa John's Pizza, and Target Corporation.
Benny Orduno is marking the beginning of his 9th year with Rising Stars Business Academy | Moreno Valley YouthBuild, where he currently serves as the Associate Director. His goal in life is to break his family's generational curse and help others with their journey as well. He started his journey by being the first in this family to graduate from high school, but he didn’t stop there. His academic journey led him to obtain his Bachelors in Psychology at California State University, San Bernardino, and his Masters in Nonprofit Management and Leadership at Walden University. Mr. Orduno sees the value of nonprofit work and is dedicating his career to helping others achieve their nonprofit missions and visions, and to start a nonprofit of his own to aid and support LGBTQ+ youth in the Inland Empire.
Sayaka Ponce, Executive Director for Whittier YouthBuild, is dedicated to working with youth on their journey to success. Sayaka believes every young person has incredible capacity for progress and success. After teaching for over 15 years, including 10 years with YouthBuild Charter School of California, she is excited to take on the launch of Whittier YouthBuild. She is passionate about her work to connect with each member and student to unlock the inner power for personal change. Sayaka has facilitated workshops for Youth Participants, Staff, and Networks in the areas of Youth Leadership Training, Student Engagement, Building a Cohesive YouthBuild staff, Classroom management for Non credentialed staff, and Project Based Learning Curriculum Development, currently serves on the National YouthBuild Directors Council as a regional alternate and Chairs the Los Angeles Region YouthBuild Collaborative. Sayaka Ponce has earned her AA from Cerritos College, BS from Hampton University, and Masters in Education, currently pursuing an additional Masters in School Leadership from CSUDH.
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